Queen beams brightly as she returns to work at Windsor
One of the first cousins of the sovereign – Prince Edward, Duke of Kent – detailed in a soon-to-be-released book his emotions and fears on Coronation Day. Recalling that, despite being only 17, he played a key role during the ceremony held at Westminster Abbey on June 2 1953, the Duke said what he was most scared of was forgetting the lines he had to recite in front of the new Queen.
In an extract from the memoir “A Royal Life” penned by the Duke himself and author Hugo Vickers, the royal said: “The ceremony played out – the Anointing being the holiest part.
“The cameras were diverted, while four Knights of the Garter held a canopy over the Queen.
“None of us had to do anything except follow the service until the moment the Archbishop crowned the Queen.”
The Duke of Kent was sitting next to his cousin Prince Philip – who had accompanied the sovereign in her golden coach – and his uncle the Duke of Gloucester.
The Queen with her cousin the Duke of Kent
The Queen was crowned on June 2 1953
Recalling eventually playing his part during the ceremony, the Queen’s cousin went on saying: “After the crowning, the Queen was ‘lifted’ into her throne.
“Now my page, Henry Herbert, came forward to hold my train.
“Another page stood near the Queen: Duncan Davidson, son of my mother’s lady-in-waiting and nephew of Bernard Norfolk, the Earl Marshal, was there to hold the coronets.
“I followed my uncle Gloucester, summoned by Garter.
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The Queen and the Duke of Kent during last year’s Trooping the Colour parade
“My chief anxiety was that I would forget my lines.
“I had been given the impression that I had to remember them so I had learned them by heart.”
However, the Duke said in the extract published by the Telegraph, in the end he realised he should not have worried about learning his lines by heart.
He said: “Of course, when the time came, the Bishop of Durham – Michael Ramsey, who would later preside at our wedding in York Minster – held up a card with the words on it so I need not have worried.
The Royal Family gathered on Buckingham Palace’s balcony after the Queen’s coronation
The Duke of Kent and the Duke of Edinburgh played an active role during the Coronation Day service
“I knelt down and read aloud: ‘I, Edward, Duke of Kent, do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die against all manner of folks. So help me God.’
“It was quite daunting.”
Prince Edward also recalled the solemn service was so long it led some to have a cheeky snack.
He wrote: “The whole service was pretty long and it was certainly very impressive.
Key events in the life of the Queen
“It got to the point where people were eating sandwiches out of their coronets.”
Prince Edward inherited his title eight decades ago after his father Prince George became one of the 14 victims in the Dunbeath air crash in August 1942.
One year prior, the prince had assumed the rank of air commodore in the Welfare Section of the RAF Inspector General’s Staff and was contributing to the royal effort to boost morale during WW2 by visiting RAF bases.
His son Prince Edward has been an active member of the Firm while also serving in the Army between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s.
The Queen and the Duke of Kent at Wimbledon in 1977
He currently is one of the 11 full-time working members of the Royal Family.
During last year’s Trooping the Colour parade, carried out in a streamlined way due to the pandemic, he was the only royal to stand by the Queen in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle.
Much of his charity work is focused on war remembrance, technology and the growth of the British industry, but he is also a keen sports fan and has served as president of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club between 1969 and 2021.
The memoir A Royal Life by HRH the Duke of Kent and Hugo Vickers will be released by Hodder & Stoughton on May 12.